If you’ve working in any niche of the AV or IT market in the past decade then you’ve heard of Cisco. Internet of Things, the cloud, control and automation, collaboration, networking, data storage, cybersecurity and video technology all fall under the manufacturing capabilities of the IT giant. As a company, Cisco is in the unique spot of being a major player on both sides of the AV and IT convergence, and is clearly readying itself to continue to grow in the commercial technology market moving forward.
How do I know? Just take a look at the acquisitions the company has made over the past nine months. AppDynamics, Viptela, MindMeld, Springpath, and most recently BroadSoft have all been acquired by the company in 2017, and each acquisition but AppDynamics has occurred within the past six months.
Taking a deeper look at these acquisitions, an image of what Cisco is readying for begins to form:
The AppDynamics $3.7 billion acquisition will allow Cisco to provide data visualization for IT applications, leveraging its already strong IT portfolio and providing customers with metrics in order to understand how those IT products are working. This bring customers closer to Cisco through the ability to scale up based on Business Intelligence, and what better to scale up with than the products they already use? From Cisco’s press release:
AppDynamics empowers the world’s largest customers to digitally transform themselves faster and with more confidence. With AppDynamics, enterprises can watch every line of code and understand its impact on user experience and application performance, while providing real-time insight into the digital business. Together with AppDynamics, Cisco will now be able to offer intelligence, correlation and insights at every level of the infrastructure, security and application. This will enable customers to make more informed IT decisions and improve business results.
The MindMeld acquisition gives Cisco an arm into the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, and will be paired with Cisco’s collaboration technology in order to provide a better user experience for customers. Specifically, MindMeld’s machine learning technology should end up creating a virtual assistant like Cortana for Cisco applications. From Cisco’s press release:
As chat and voice quickly become the interfaces of choice, MindMeld’s AI technology will enable Cisco to deliver unique experiences throughout its portfolio, starting with collaboration. This acquisition will power new conversational interfaces for Cisco’s collaboration products, revolutionizing how users will interact with our technology, increasing ease of use, and enabling new cognitive capabilities.
The Viptela acquisition strengthened Cisco’s push toward software networking-as-a-service that became apparent after the company’s unveiling of its intent-based networking solutions in June. The SD-WAN solution from Viptela allows expands Cisco’s portfolio with cloud-based network management technology. From Cisco’s press release:
Viptela provides a compelling SD-WAN solution with advanced routing, segmentation and security capabilities for interconnecting complex enterprise networks. Its cloud-based network management, orchestration and overlay technologies make it easy to deploy and manage SD-WAN.
In direct relation to the Viptela acquisition, Springpath’s technology will benefit Cisco’s push toward networking as-a-service. This time, the company’s technology involves hyperconvergence software that will let Cisco enable server-based storage systems through a software-centric, distributed file system. From Cisco’s press release:
The acquisition will allow Cisco to continue to grow its computing business, enabling more customers to realize the benefits of simple and economic software-defined infrastructure. As part of Cisco, it will serve as a meaningful addition to Cisco’s data center portfolio and will help Cisco provide simplicity and agility to its data center customers.
In the latest acquisition of the year, estimated at $1.9 billion (currently agreed upon), the purchase of BroadSoft is major news not only in the tech space but for the stock market as well. BroadSoft boasts a strong unified communications portfolio with an open, mobile, secure platform. The platform will provide voice and contact center solutions on premise or in the cloud. From Cisco’s press release:
More and more businesses expect fully featured voice and contact center solutions with the ability to deploy them on premises or in the cloud. By combining BroadSoft’s open interface and standards-based cloud voice and contact center solutions delivered via Service Provider partners, with Cisco’s leading meetings, hardware and services portfolio, the combined company will offer best-of-breed solutions for businesses of all sizes and deliver a full suite of collaboration capabilities to power the future of work.
What Does It All Mean?
Cisco has been up-front about its plans to create a highly sustainable, scalable off-premise infrastructure solution. It seems to me that they are all in on recurring revenue, and plan to provide networking-as-a-service as a means to move to a subscription-based infrastructure offering. The acquisitions of Springpath and Viptela highlight the company’s motives in this space.
However, the MindMeld and BroadSoft acquisitions prove that the company is also strengthening its unified communications portfolio and moving it to a more cloud-based system as well. That MindMeld involves communications AI and as well as machine learning shows that Cisco believes what other major players in the space (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple) also believe – the future in communications is utilizing machine learning in order to make unified communications between humans easier, more accessible, and with more information about how they work. The AppDynamics acquisition highlights something similar – using data to create Business Intelligence and inform customers how to function better with real stats.
So here is the picture these acquisitions paint, in my eyes. Cisco will provide you with the infrastructure and the data center. They’ll provide you with a unified communications platform that utilizes this infrastructure, and an AI assistant that competes with those you know well in Siri and Cortana. Finally, Cisco will be able to visualize actionable data in order to show you, the customer, how well all of its systems are working for you and how you can improve even further.
Blink and you’ll miss it, but Cisco is now able to provide competitive technology for a significant slice of your IT needs. If my hunch is right, Cisco doesn’t want to provide pieces of the solution anymore, they want to provide the whole thing.